DesignerExpat

 

DesignerExpat

by Andy Mayer

Tribal

Don’t you just LERVE and despise those women that pull of a complete designer (expat) rental home with Ethnic/Tribal/Modern pizzaz? 

Come on most of us have no possessions and turn up to a new posting to a fully furnished home in Beige, beige and bland  or a fully furnished home in Franco Cozzo meets Louis XIV with gilt framed ceilings and polyester bedspreads or we  just get the previous tenants smoke stained filthy lounge and  have a few ikea plastic kids plates in the cupboard. We always manage to buy something significantly connected with the country we travel to or live in. One of those “just had to have one” moments. 

I get to lug all our worldly possessions around the world. Oh the joy it is knowing half the stuff will be slashed, torn, ripped, smashed, chipped or stolen. 

My expat rental  home usually looks like  nomadic Mongolian,Turkish,Indian and a Thai family plonked all together in a room bringing all the things they don’t need anymore and then a family of inner city Melbournites moved in! I always think our stuff is an eclectic mix of  bohemian, stylish, academic, well travelled coolness but when I enter the homes of the really cool ones I know mine is a dog’s breakfast of decorating. I suck at decorating and style. Any who knows me can tell you that from the way I dress. 

Take Veronique, she lived in Morocco, Turkey, China, Lebanon, France, Saudi and about 10 other bloody amazing countries. Her home was the epitome of cool.Think amazing  bedouin head-dress mounted onto handcrafted wooden base which became a lightstand, oversized prayer beads  and calligraphy brushes making a statement on a fabulous French consol and to top  a replica Cappadoccia in clay on the floor behind the couch! She is French you know!

Seriously if I put anything on the floor in my house it would shatter in a million pieces within minutes by either my kids kicking a  footy, running over it with a scooter or me  stepping on it while getting pissed and dancing around it at 3am at a party for one.. Oh hang on I don’t do that and if I did I would NOT tell you about it.

humpf!  let’s move on

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Take Anita, OMg  she is the Queen of interior design in shitty  ugly mass produced middle eastern compound homes. She taught me to request a “white pallet”..

“What? ” I say puzzled

“Well you make sure every wall, window frame and door is painted white. Everything looks good against white! ”  

  She was right!

Her home is a mix of five thousand dollar rugs in front of an ikea white bookshelf, an antique Indian painting over an Ikea  ( white) hall table, a Nespresso coffee machine on a French provincial sideboard and everything looks fabulous!  That women could even pull off white linen outfits with her divine contrasting  thick curly black hair. What a bitch, but the thing is she is one of the nicest people I have ever met!  I cant even say that she is a bitch ‘cause she is not ….she is elegant and stylish like her home.

OH god is that what it comes down to elegance. If I smoke a menthol cigarette from an ebony cigarette holder on my Turkish carpet leaning against  my  colourful Indian “poof” (or Pooh-F as I like to say )will I be ELEGANT?.

I seriously doubt it unless I am reading “A Catcher in the Rye” of course. A room and decor is a metaphor of the mind and mine is cluttered, it’s academic-(ally challenged ) it’s alternative thinking, it’s tre tre cool and I am a legend in my own messy loungeroom. 

dog's breakfast
dog’s breakfast

Andy  xoxo

 

MyExpatHome

 

MyExpatHome
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The difference between the grand dream of living in my home town and the reality that would be if I was living in my home town are poles apart. I come from Melbourne but have lived in Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and now we are in Kurdistan.

The dream is one of  eco living, honorable living, kids playing footy, venturing to indigenous territory  and learning the dreamtime, camping in the outback, creating and inspiring through art and therapy and living simply but able to travel as we like. Coexisting on a property with my parents, friends hanging out on weekends.

The reality would be  very different because Australia of our dreams is not affordable, not available to us. We would probably chose inner suburban living;  listening or complaining about who had made the best investment by buying “early’  in the better burb, comparing notes of who lived in London long enough to make corporate connections and who has their kids into a prestigious private school, who had inheritances to give them a kick start and who was better connected, who had a beach house and a supposed better life.   Questioning the make and model of the car you drive, where you holiday, who you know, how you size up to your friends, work colleagues and strangers even.

Don’t get me wrong it is not always like that and we don’t live our life that way but I recall a conversation in a playground as a newcomer to a local primary school in Richmond a inner city suburb of Melbourne, “What street do you live in?  Oh that’s a great street lovely houses, what number are you? Oh i know that place how much did you pay for that house?”  We rent I replied! The  lady got up and walked away  the Challenge to compare cleverness  was lost on the renter. Pompass arse!  Her name was Janet she looked miserable. 

 I miss my friends in Melbourne I just don’t miss the competition for success and the mental comparisons I  sometimes make about where I should be financially, career wise, material possessions and bank account because some git needs to feel better about their life asking me about mine. Not because my Melbourne,  friends are like that but because Australia is like that!  Maybe my friends there do it too? A little sample of the friends I left behind,Eddie ( my alpha female), Tina (my kindness inspiration), Jules ( my trustee), Johnny (my logic), Alicia  (my ambition), Lynne( my inspiration). Paul ( my confidant) , Todd ( my darling sage), Amelia( my positivity meter) and of course my mother who is all of the above.

I  think of some special expat friends. Jo in Qatar (my cheersquad big sister), Michelle in Mongolia (my consiglieri), Camila in Abu Dhabi ( my mexican  sister), Lisa in Australia ( my listener), Jessie in Canada ( my laugh provider), Alicia in Saudi Arabia ( my  etheric soul sister), Sofi in Indonesia ( my cultural advisor) and Lkhamsuren in Mongolia (my youth ambassador), Lesley in Hong Kong ( my stablizer).

It makes me think about the value of friendships and life. Who says that a life with a constant group is more valid than  one with  transient people? Not me  at this stage but who am I to judge or compare? I am a member of a circle a constant group, I love them all. 

 Baz lurhmahnn, a prominent filmmaker was on Australia network on TV  and  described  his family as a “circus family”  always moving and he said there are many more out there. “yes they are moving around the world like shoals of fish moving to where the food is.” I thought that was poignant, fitting and real.

Yes it’s the money that brings us but ultimately it is the job package.  If  you offered most of us “the job” in our home country it would not be  as financially rewarding as expatriate life.  Growing up I  had heard about expatriates and thought they were people seconded to a job. They were people who left for a little while to work in an obscure country and then return home.Pompous arses who drank gin and tonic and bragged about their intellectual superiority over the indigenous population.  Boy was I wrong.

I haven’t met those people and if I have I would have dismissed them as fast as they dismiss societies they move to. I learned the people in my  expatriate movement are a solid, accepting and loving group, they welcome with open arms, they nurture, they support, they give  so much effort , time and money to the country they live and they cry like everyone else. They hurt when people leave and they get sad when they need to move on.Then they do it all again with a new group of people every couple of years or so . They are champions. I love them and the gin and tonics consumed!Oh and most of them rent!

Andy xoxox